Liveblogging Enterprise 2.0 – How to build solutions people actually use

Excellent panel – well worth reading the lengthy stuff below.

Short version: build a really good platform that actually helps people collaborate, turn it on, and get out of the way.

* Moderator – Rob Preston, Editor in Chief, Information Week
* Speaker – Mike Fratesi, Manager, Solutions Marketing, Unified Communications, Cisco Systems, Inc.
* Speaker – Oliver Young, Analyst, Forrester Research, Inc
* Speaker – Toby Redshaw, Corporate Vice President, I.D.E.A.S., Motorola

Plan for the panel is to fairly informal – no ppt (yeah!!)

Toby first –

IDEAs – information, data enabling architectures and systems?

One of the nice things about motorola is that you can make up your own title.

Motorola runs on what we call Intranet 2.0 – 75,000 users on the intranet every day (with only 60,000 employees that’s pretty good).

We had a decent knowledge management application that worked for the scientific guys but now we’ve added more open systems a few years back- now we have 4400 blogs, 4200 wikis. We just turned it on – didn’t ask anyone, didn’t tell anyone, just let it grow. We’re also using scuttle, implementing folksonomy – I thought this wasn’t going to work (it’s like Arlo Guthrie doing IT) – but it really does work. People actually see new relationships and heatmaps and things they would not have seen otherwise. Social networking, smart, almost spying on you (you’ve got to be careful) with companies like visible path.

The key is that it just has got to be super easy to use, and (here’s a radical idea) useful. People will vote with their clicks. The higher up you go in the hierarchy the less it gets used – which I think is a real thing.

Oliver covers Enterprise 2.0 and Web 2.0 for Forrester.

What I see is a bit of a dichotomy. The marketing and communications departments, lines of business – you find a lot of people really excited about these tools and what they make possible. But when you take a look at IT, especially among CIOs, you see a lot of fear. This is decentralized, emergent, difficult to control, under the radar. How do I lock it down? How do I make sure we’re secure, compliant, meet e-discovery rules, and don’t break any laws.

In my mind, they’ve learned lessons from IM. They tried to keep it out – employees used it anyway, whether CIOs liked it or not. This time, they are hitting it head on – we know we can’t keep it out – so how do we use it in a controlled fashion.

What I see is a lot of what I would call controlled experimentation. We’re not seeing a lot of “let’s change the way we do our jobs” with a lot of fanfare – instead there is a lot of skunkworks, quiet growth. The challenge is that this lessens the impact – only those who know where to look for it will find and use it.

Mike – Cisco and unified communications platforms.

Our recent acquisition of webex. Our goal is to leverage our broader unified communications solutions in conjunction with some of the web 2.0 technologies (wikis, blogs, folksonomies, etc) – from a unified communications platform perspective we still think a lot of collaboration is real time. (It may not be the main point of the show, but a lot of folks are doing real time distributed communication).

From a Cisco perspective, we’re huge consumers of our own tools – see Cisco at work which talks about how we use these tools in our own jobs. We’re also much more aggressively moving from an ad hoc model for deployment (bubbling up) into a multimillion dollar initiative to completely revamp our intranet and our directory, and integrate with our presence capability, and make it easier to build communities of interest. There’s a very comprehensive, centralized approach to restructure the company from a command and control model to a collaborative model.

Rob: Toby mentioned 4400 blogs, 4200 wikis – sounds like a mess. Who owns these things?

Toby: I own them. The whole point is you’ve got to have a really small team to do these things – if you have a big team it will get very quickly out of control. We have 250 knowledge champions, selected by the communities they represent – sometimes 230, sometimes 250 – but roughly there. This is taken as a badge of honor to be a knowledge champion – to garden the wiki, to make sure nothing too awful happens. The other thing you need is a brilliant enterprise architect who is also a smart information architect – who makes sure things work together – and then you let it go.

This is what companies do anyway. I don’t beat nokia or cisco or siemens by having better buildings or shinier cafeterias – companies are groups of humans working together using that dumb stuff (buildings, cash, machines) – if you can get them working better together, you will win. We think like chess – if I get to move twice as often as you I will win, even if you are ultimately making smarter moves each time.

Rob: Oliver – you mentioned how tools are making their way into the enterprise without the sanction of IT. Is this a real problem or just a paranoia IT needs to get over.

Oliver: To some extent all security is paranoia. Real major security breaches are rare – someone losing a laptop is a bigger problem than the kinds of breaches we’re talking about in blogging or wikis. But there are real issues – if you’ve got more than 100 employees, at least 1 of them is blogging, and talking at least somewhat about their job – and with current regulations about ediscovery, SOX, that’s a potential problem. What was interesting in our recent survey was that even at those companies which made absolutely no investment in blogs/wikis had 3 to 8% of people using them.

You need to make sure you have corporate policies about blogging, wikis, public commentary, etc – if your terms of employment don’t mention this stuff, it is a problem. It is the well meaning employee who can cause difficulty here.

The other way this stuff comes into the enterprise is the SaaS model –, SocialText, etc – I can sign up and use these things without IT consent. Using these tools without a coherent strategy around them can lead to issues.

The third way is Sharepoint – all the major companies are brining this stuff into your enterprise in the next upgrade cycle whether you like it or not. A lot of employees worry about employee productivity- do I need to worry about my employees spending all their time sitting around blogging? How am I going to educate my employees about appropriate uses?

Rob: Mike, you talked about John Chambers and the top-down approach being taken now. Can you talk a bit about how that gets pushed down into the rank and file?


The approach is to really enable these changes from the IT purchase perspective but also endorse very publically the need to change the way we work – we need to be using the tools to a greater extent in order for us to be successful. We purchased webex, fiveacross, and implemented a new group within development that will focus on collaborative software. We’re doing it on multiple levels – restructuring, refocusing, aquiring, endorsing – but also at the same time coming at it from a bottoms up perspective – wikis and other self-organizing approaches. The top tells the rank and file that self-organizing works – offer explicit consent and support and then get out of thew ay. A balance of support and guidance from the corporate level but also bottoms up self-organization.


Toby – you do need to have some structure. If you just let everything emerge all over the place in a fully freeform environment – you will, when it gets big, have enterprise spaghetti like you’ve never seen. So have a small centralized group that identifies platforms and standards – but then let it spread widely. So it isn’t a free for all.

Rob: Is it a demographic thing – young folks / old folks?

Toby – it’s really a question of two different kinds of approaches – we’ve found it actually fairly even across the workgroups by age – it was a question of how close you get to actual work being done – the more you got close to actual work the more you get usage.

Oliver – I think there is a “propensity to use” issue which is age-sensitive. You’re working in organizations which are very tech savvy and have a more adopter-friendly profile. It’s not that older employees won’t use this stuff, but that younger employees are more likely to be predisposed to thinking of this kind of collaboration as useful – they are used to doing it. The familiarity breeds predisposition to use the technology.

I think Motorola is right on with the knowledge champions – that is what can help flatten the adoption curve – once people less likely to adopt get to see people adopting and see the benefits – those evangelists can get others on board at the grass roots level.

But the same was true of blackberries (or motorola smart phones) – the older audience may not at first have seen the value but now they are seen as indespensible – and this is a change that happened quite quickly.

Rob – how are you measuring the success of this stuff?

Toby – it is having an effect but it is slow to measure. Companies like ours built campuses in the 50s and 60s in order to futher collaboration – people bumping into each other informally creates a different effect. We’re starting to see that same synchronicity happen thousands of times a day. We’re seeing, just as an example of the output, less email and more usage of other collaboration tools – we see that as progress.

Oliver – this is difficult to measure. Even email, if you’d never seen it before, would be hard to measure the ROI of – it is a soft ROI. It may take a leap of faith. The cost of a missed collaboration is very difficult. It also depends greatly on the implementation / installation – sometimes the impact of more immediately visible, sometimes the impact is negligible or even worse. An example where a specific installation removed the need for 2 employees who managed a database – but those kinds of examples are hard to chain together into a bigger picture.

Toby – we see lots of those stories. Sales folks and how long it would have taken them to gather the information they needed to make a sale – how quickly they can do that now as opposed to before we had these tools is a very compelling story that people get quickly. You can’t measure it – (cycle time is up 12%, and quality is up 3x – how’d I measure it? I made it up) – but you can see it. – it works.

Oliver – surveys can help. How satisfied employees are with the toolset. Before and after – you can at least measure change in employee behavior and satisfaction.

Mike – First, we’re seeing tremendous value where these things get deployed. Izone, for example, the billion-dollar-business-ideas portal / wiki Cisco is using (mentioned in the keynote the other day). That’s just one example – product launch is another example – ask anyone who works in association with product launches and they will say I can’t tell you exact metrics but I know things work much better now than they did before.

Audience questions: In order to make the info searchable, how much guidance did you need to give about how to tag, or how to support search?

Toby – the folksonomy stuff, we’ve got about 2600 users signed up, but also a lot of people viewing other people’s tags. All of it is very simple – one page web display that says “here’s how you do it.”

If you can’t explain it in one page, it isn’t the right solution. If the team it takes to build it can’t be fed with two pizzas the team’s too big. [Editor’s note: so long as one of those pizzas is vegan, I’m on board].

Audience question: how about reverse mentoring?

Toby – unless you’ve got some mean-spirited employees, it will happen informally anyway – but it is a good thing.

Audience question: how does this impact project management? Does it replace Project Management?

Oliver – it can be a supplement. Most of these tools really augment rather than replace existing technology – it is rare you actually ditch existing technology.

All these tools can be very helpful in circulating information within and across teams – which is a big piece of PM but not all of it.

Audience notes – on reverse mentoring, we add two questions to our interviewing process – are you familiar with blogs, wikis – if so, what do you find useful about them? On the PM front, we use wikis and the like to keep agile teams in synch with each other.

Oliver- the problem in my experience isn’t to find evangelists. You’ll find these folks running blogs and wikis already outside the enterprise context. Getting existing evangelists involved in what you’re doing is important.

Toby – we use open text live link, which integrates well with MS tools. The first thing the teams do is go suck up whatever is valuable from the existing wikis and blogs – so it shortens much more the time upfront used for “what are we going to do, how are we going to collaborate” stuff.

Mike – it’s also about extensible tools. You need to be able to extend what you’re doing.

Question from audience: How did you deal with the evangelists who may have lots of different preferences – if you’ve got mediawiki, socialtext, twiki, whatever – how do you get everybody together on a single platform.

Toby – we hunt down people who bring in IT from outside, and terminate them. We have one central IT environment and you have to use it.

Audience: is it more the stick or the carrot.

Toby – it’s both. But they have to both be real.

How did the culture change at Motorola?

Four things:
1. You will not be silo oriented, you will be outward facing.
2. You will not tolerate dissent.
3. You will create both carrot and stick.
4. In order to change management, you need to change management (40% of top leaders aren’t there any more).

[I may have the four things misnumbered there a bit. Sorry]

Q / note from audience:

Adoption and the age curve – sometime this has to do with how stuff is presented – raw RSS feeds versus cultivated, aggregated, sorted feeds. If you make it more relevant to their needs they will adopt.

Toby – I don’t want senior leaders – business unit managers, doing a lot of collaboration – I want them making decisions – I want the folks who work for them collaborating.

Oliver – There are always a group of employees who are not going to change – you need those folks looped in. (Let them get RSS in email, let them email the blog, let someone else put their stuff on the wiki).

Mike – it also is a question of making it part of what they need to get the job done – to some extent those who don’t adopt will sort of fade away as they won’t be involved – people have to want to be involved.

Audience comment: getting buy in from legacy people – the metaphor is the talking to a colleague you haven’t seen in a while, that kind of conversation is valuable and can be extended to people who aren’t there. Selling the information you can get access to that you wouldn’t get otherwise which can come from these technologies.

Toby – the single best business vehicle I believe is the face to face conversation. You have to be careful that these other tools don’t fully displace that relationship but supplement it.


  1. I wish I’d been at this panel. It sounds like the best discussion of Enterprise 2.0 experiences to date. About Toby Redshaw’s comment on the intelligence of Visible Path being “almost like spying”, unlike spies, Visible Path collects its data from the individual subscribers with their permission, and they receive the benefits. Still, there’s a balance between value and privacy, and Visible Path is hyper-aware of that balance because our subscribers include corporations as well as individuals. Our initial approach was to hard-code privacy mechanisms into the product, but many found the controls to be too restrictive. So we try to react to feedback quickly, and we are increasingly adding individual customization to the privacy controls. The broad trend, even in the enterprise, is increasing openness, especially as the MySpace generation enters the workforce. Enterprise tools providers like Visible Path must listen closely to customers and manage the value vs. privacy tradeoff very carefully.

  2. Hi!

    If we refer to the characteristics of Enterprise 2.0 on
    , it talks about almost everything. BUT, in order to get the the things happen in a systematic manner, in order words for the community to exist and exhibit & share knowledge we would require two more additions to the list.

    First, every piece of information needs to be structured and indexed. Secondly, BUT, the main important thing is that we would require a facility. And since this is knowledge age, to be precise it needs to be an eWorking Facility.

    Sushant Madhab

  3. Sushant – fair to assume that QXSystems sells an eWorking facility? ;)

    But seriously – not sure that it makes sense that “every piece of information needs to be structured and indexed” for emergent, bottom up, self-organizing collaboration to occur.

  4. Hi! John,

    I do not deny your assumptions. :)

    But, if you would look from for an emergent, buttom up, self organizing enterprise to run efficient, we would require a dynamic application/environment.

    Plus, information(which is processed based) is a knowledge at some point or other for the organization. Don’t you think so?

    Sushant Madhab

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